Environmental Democracy Index Score
Uganda scored well on the Justice pillar, fair on the Transparency pillar, and poor on the Participation pillar. While Ugandan law provides a right to access environmental information on request, the government is only obligated to proactively disclose some environmental information to the public. For the Participation pillar, the law only provides a few opportunities for the public to participate in environmental decision making, and participation does not have to occur at an early stage in the process. Regarding the Justice pillar, the public has a right to challenge government and private-actor decisions that violate rights to information and public participation. However, the law does not provide assistance to women and vulnerable groups to ensure they can obtain redress when their environmental rights are violated. Uganda has established some important legal mechanisms to support environmental democracy. By addressing these areas for improvement it could do more to promote transparency, public participation, and access to justice.
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Uganda has taken significant progress in legal reforms to increase the public’s access to information with the first law passed in 1998 and a more recent one in 2005. Uganda has also achieved milestones in the application of its environmental impact assessment procedures, though there is still improvements that can be made to ensure effective public participation in the process. Civil society organizations have played a critical role in Uganda to ensure that some of these important laws have come into place. Specifically, Greenwatch Uganda has worked closely with the TAI Uganda coalition and the Government of Uganda to champion citizen rights in environmental matters.
TAI Uganda’s work has focused on three main areas: working on the enactment and implementation of the Freedom of Information Act that came into force in 2006, judicial training for the judiciary on environmental law enforcement and compliance and access rights, and working with select communities to raise their awareness on environmental substantive and procedural rights.
Thus far, TAI Uganda has conducted two independent assessments, with the first in 2001/2002 and the second in 2004/2005. The assessment findings have enabled the coalition to accelerate implementation of access rights by sharing the findings and lobbying governments to secure commitments to fill the rights gaps.
TAI Uganda’s lead organization, Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment (ACODE), is an independent public policy research and advocacy think tank and a regional leader in a range of areas. It is committed to influence development and governance policies for the promotion of social justice in Eastern Africa.